As part of my "healing treatment" I've been told to attend Alanon meetings. Alanon meetings are for the families and friends of alcoholics. This was hard at first, mostly because I don't know any alcoholics (although there are a few distant relatives who are). What could I gain out of a meeting where I didn't share the most common characteristic?
Well, I was very mistaken. The words of wisdom spoken there can apply to anyone who's suffered or feels like sin has taken over their life. The meeting is for those who've spent years trying to help other people find healing, never realizing how deep their need for healing was.
In the meeting this week the topic was gratitude. They talked about how they made it a point of doing their gratitude list every night and when they didn't how their lives seemed much darker. They talked about how, even when things are at their worst, there is always something to be grateful for. There are even times when you are grateful for the worst.
Then, they talked about the connection between gratitude and letting go. At the time I just wrote it down, mostly because I didn't understand how, but then it hit me later at adoration. It is what Pinckaers was talking about. You are only grateful for a gift, you are not grateful for things not given, for things you earned. If you've accomplished some great goal, all by yourself, who do you have to thank but yourself? Gratitude happens when we realize that it was a gift, it needn't have been given.
When we start telling God thank you for the little things in our lives, we begin to see bigger things he has given us. By acknowledging his gifts we open our hearts and are able to truly appreciate them. Gratitude becomes the means by which we accept his gifts and the fruit of that acceptance.
As an example, I have been blessed with great artistic talent, but for a long time I wouldn't accept it as a gift and refused to use it. I was upset that I didn't have more talent; it wasn't enough. Then the Lord took that talent away by means of a pinched nerve that caused my hand to fall asleep when I held the pencil too long. When I could no longer draw I realized that there was no reason I should have any talent to begin with. When I was able to draw, even the most simple of pictures, it was a great joy and a gift. I learned to thank the Lord for that gift and I am now free to offer it back to him. Where before I would refuse to use the talent because I wanted perfection, I've now learned to let go of my desire for perfection and am free to use it as he wills.
Here are some other words of wisdom from yesterday's meeting:
- For a more complete Gratitude List, go through the alphabet and list one item for each letter: I'm grateful for Alanon, Butterflies, Colors, Dandelions, The Eucharist, etc...
- Let go and let God...do HIS job. It's not your job to fix the world ;-)
- When we stop pleasing people, people are not pleased, but that's OK :)